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  • The overhead crane will have a double role to play in ITER, first handling the machine components during the installation and assembly phase that begins in 2019 ... and then handling them again during the dismantling phase of the project.

    Strong arms for 1,500-tonne loads

    1,500 tonnes — or the equivalent of four Boeing 747s fully charged with passengers and fuel. That's what the recently installed Assembly Building bridge cranes [...]

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  • A mega contract for assembly-phase construction management was signed on 27 June 2016 by (left to right) Jo Jik-Lie, president of KEPCO's nuclear division; Clive White, president of Amec Foster Wheeler's  Clean Energy business; Bernard Bigot, ITER Director-General; and Stephane Aubarbier, vice president of Assystem.

    Mega contract to manage assembly and installation

    The ITER Tokamak, with its one million components and ten times as many individual parts—is without a doubt the most complex machine ever designed. Whereas spa [...]

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  • Nikita S. Khrushchev, physicist Igor V. Kurchatov (in the middle, with beard) and Nikolai A. Bulganin on 26 April 1956 in Harwell, the Holy of Holies of Britain's nuclear research. It was the improbable beginning to what was to become a "world fusion community."

    60 years ago: the speech that changed everything

    On 18 April 1956 a Soviet warship, escorted by two destroyers, pulled up to the dock in Portsmouth, UK. On board were two of the most powerful and enigmatic me [...]

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  • Doctor, mountaineer, navigator, Jean-Louis Etienne was the first man to reach the North Pole solo, over land, in 1986. In the Artic or in Antarctica, by foot, dog sled or airship, energy questions have always been at the heart of his preoccupations. © Francis Latreille

    Jean-Louis Etienne, polar explorer, on energy and ITER

    In 1986 Jean-Louis Etienne set out for the North Pole alone, on foot, from Ward Hunt Island in the extreme north of Canada—a voyage across the frozen Artic Oce [...]

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Mag Archives

First Plasma: 2025

To determine the precise date of ITER's First Plasma, hundreds of engineers, technicians and schedulers worked for nearly 18 months to reconcile the latest information from manufacturers in over twenty countries with construction progress on site. A number of variables were also taken into account—such as how much time could be gained by hiring more specialists or increasing the budget. The result? An updated calendar and a new date for First Plasma: December 2025.

Beyond its symbolic importance First Plasma, scheduled for November 2025, will also be the occasion to test the alignment of the machine's magnetic fields and the operation of critical systems. (Click to view larger version...)
Beyond its symbolic importance First Plasma, scheduled for November 2025, will also be the occasion to test the alignment of the machine's magnetic fields and the operation of critical systems.
In offices and factories on three continents, ITER teams are fully aligned with this new schedule, which the ITER Council has validated as "challenging but technically achievable." Weekly and monthly tracking of the key milestones is carried out to monitor adherence to the schedule and act quickly in the case of any slippage.

Thus, in November 2025 the first "small star" will be created inside of the ITER Tokamak—exactly 40 years after a vast international initiative in fusion was set in motion by world leaders Gorbachev and Reagan at the Geneva Superpower Summit in November 1985.

The long gestation period of the ITER Project can be explained in part by the challenges of creating  an international organization from scratch, the complexity of its organization and governance (7 Members, 35 countries), and finally the huge scientific, technological and financial challenges of the program.

But all of the incremental steps that must be achieved are now drawn out through to the machine's First Plasma—a milestone in itself, but also the beginning of an experimental campaign that will last at least 20 years.

Beyond its symbolic importance, ITER's First Plasma will also be an important trial run for the machine—the first occasion to verify the correct alignment of the machine's magnetic fields and the correct functioning of key systems (electrical supply, cryostat, cooling water, cryogenics, etc.).

The very first low-power hydrogen plasma—lasting only a few milliseconds—will be followed by other "shots" of increasing power and duration. This shakedown mode, lasting a few weeks, will be followed by a shutdown phase during which the systems that are indispensable for hydrogen and helium plasmas at nominal power are installed. The first production of fusion power will take place during the machine's nuclear phase, scheduled for the middle of the following decade.